Blog Featuring Restored R.E.M. Demo Facing Shutdown Threat
A blog site featuring a number of restored recordings of R.E.M.'s earliest work has been forced to take them down. The digital archivist Analog Loyalist posted a blog on the blog R.E.M.cycle to let fans know that Universal Records is responsible for halting the restoration process.
As Rolling Stone explains, Analog Loyalist is the same person who restored the singles archives of the Smiths, Joy Division, New Order and more. The blogger intended to do the same thing with R.E.M.'s first cassette demo, which featured early versions of 'Radio Free Europe,' 'Sitting Still' and 'White Tornado.' However, Universal Records, who owns the group's IRS Records catalog, issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice for a post on the writer's sister site, The Power of Independent Trucking, that featured the demo.
"Tell me, what role does the IFPI (of which Universal is obviously a member) have to do with unreleased material recorded when the band had no record contract?" Analog Loyalist fumed, referring to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the British equivalent of the Recording Industry Association of America. "These were demos freely given away by the band. On low-fi C45 cassettes. And the IFPI thinks it's their business how?"
The blogger is now unsure if the project will continue. "So you can see why I'm very hesitant to move forward with this blog, only because I don't want to see my efforts as a writer/archivist/engineer wasted," he writes.
The process of restoring old demos is not exactly a walk in the park. As the R.E.M. blog explains: "All tracks were taken from the best/earliest possible sources to avoid modern mastering techniques which crush the dynamics. The artwork was scanned at the highest possible resolution and the type was reset when possible using the original fonts."
The blog continues: "All of these singles are out-of-print in their original form. Some of the tracks have never appeared on CD. This was a labor of love from a small, devoted circle of fans."